IIT Roorkee team uses protein from tamarind seed to treat Chikungunya

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Megha Murkya

Researchers have revealed that a protein found in tamarind seeds reduces the infectivity of chikungunya virus by 64% and the virus RNA levels inside infected cells by nearly 45%. After studying in-vitro they got some positive outcomes, they are planning to test it on animals to see does it really treat chikungunya. At present, there are no vaccines to prevent or no medicines to treat this disease.

A study published in the journal Virology has for the first time confirmed that the sugar moiety on the surface of alphaviruses has a role in infectivity.

A team led by Shailly Tomar at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee found the tamarind protein (tamarind chitinase-like lectin or TCLL) binds to the sugar moiety (N-acetylglucosamine or NAG) present on the surface of chikungunya virus. When TCLL protein binds to the NAG sugar moiety it nearly coats the virus particles thus preventing the virus from binding with the receptors on the host cells.

TCLL protein of different doses when incubated with the virus for different time periods, they found that 100 micromolar of the protein incubated with the virus for just 30 minutes was sufficient to cause 64% drop in infectivity.

Explaining to The Hindu why there was only 64% reduction in infectivity, Ramanjit Kaur from IIT Roorkee and first author of the paper said that “Besides NAG, there could be other sugar molecules through which the virus interacts with the host cells. Also, there may be other receptors on the host cells which allow the virus to get into the cells.”

The proteins effect on the RNA levels inside the infected cells was that it reduced infectivity to 45%.

Prof. Tomar said,”The TCLL protein can bind to glycan found on nearly 30 members of the alphavirus genus. So the finding of this study has huge implications”. Based on the findings, Prof. Tomar and Prof. Kumar have filed a patent for chikungunya antiviral composition consisting of TCLL protein.

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